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Examining food budgets - Part 2

(post, Mark Douglas)


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p(green).  Be forewarned: as always, my writing tends to be overly "train-of-though" (some would say a train-wreck of grammar) and is therefore often "enhanced" with typos and questionable punctuation — don't hesitate to have fun making fun of it ... everyone else does ;).

Last week I started a series of posts based on [/user/OpusOne/blog/examiningfoodbudgets-part1 "some spending statistics"] that I have continually heard about, but never quite fully appreciate. These are meant to not to be judgements on the specific choices of others, but to challenge all of us to think about how we budget our money — in good times and in bad — and how those decisions effect both the food we eat and the healthier lives people generally strive to achieve.

Today, I may wander a bit from the core thought of food spending, but will try to follow up the first post with some more thoughts on budgets, food, health and how bad economic times bring out some seemingly counterintuitive ideas that sometimes can have a very positive effect (short- and long-term).

The other day there was an NPR show that was questioning the "Spending to save" thinking of the current US congress.  Basically, how can we address the seemingly conflicting ideas of "... Americans are not saving enough anymore" and "... we need stimulus \[spending\] to help get us out of a economic crunch that was primarily driven by excessive spending and borrowing.

The guests did a great job of trying to talk though how some spending, if properly used to drive longer-term reduction in future costs, could be a wonderful way too spend to save.  If only it were that easy.

There are some obvious one's like switching out to compact florescent, or LCD lighting where possible — the positive effects can be astounding.  There is also other spending on improving insulation through new windows or other upgrades in our houses that seems like a easy way to increase consumer spending in the short-run with the goal of saving money in the future.

Is shopping a CostCo actually saving money in the long run? Does buying from your local farmers' market have long-term savings/cost impact?  How about how we cook our meals (electric, gas, microwave)?  How about the kind of ingredients?  How do all of these effect our food eco-system? Many questions that may have both good and bad short- versus long-term tradeoffs.  

Rather than just pointing out what I think are obvious pros and cons of some of these ideas, I wonder what everyone else thinks are the winners and losers in the debate of whether we can spend our way out of this recession with smart spending to save ideas, or not?

I will start it out with one thought... CFLs are a great idea, but is the impact of throwing away current light bulbs we all have stockpiled — and let's admit it, we all have a monster package of them in the basement or a closet (thanks CostCo) — still unused have an mitigate the long-term benefit for some of us until we use up those old blubs?  Is this a case that might be a don't spend and save now_ example for some?

I am planning to dig in deeper on a couple that I have in mind related to the food we eat and post about them soon, but for the time being, I would also love to hear anyone else thinks on this subject.  Thoughts?


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